Former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf believes India captain Virat Kohli is a class act but stopped short of putting him in the same league as of legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. Yousuf said Tendulkar and Dravid played and scored runs against the best of the bowling attacks in the world which, he feels, Kohli has not. "The quality of cricket nowadays does not match the quality we had in the past. Virat Kohli is a very good batsman and I like to watch him play but I don't think he is in the same league of Tendulkar, Dravid or Laxman," Yousuf said on Geo Super channel.
Yousuf, 42, played from 1998 to 2010 for Pakistan in 90 Tests and 288 One-day Internationals, scoring 39 centuries and 97 half centuries in the two formats with a combined total of 17,250 runs. Yousuf played at a time when Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman dominated world cricket.
"Some might not agree but I don't think today we have the same quality bowlers or batsmen that we had when I played. Look at Australia's present bowling line-up they have no one to match Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne, India had Anil Kumble, Srinath and some very good bowlers. South Africa and West Indies also had strong bowling attacks while Sri Lanka relied heavily on Muralitharan," Yousuf recalled.
"The rules have also been changed to make life easier for the batters while the pitches nowadays have also become more batting friendly. In the era I played you encountered different pitches in Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa. Nowadays more or less they are same everywhere," he said.
Yousuf said this is why he considered Tendulkar or Dravid in a different league from the current Indian batsmen.
"Yes they are getting runs but against weaker opposition and on similar pitches. I think Tendulkar and Dravid are greats because they scored runs against quality bowlers and teams," he said.
"To get runs against the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar or Saqlain Mushtaq was no joke. I always thought Tendulkar and Dravid were perfectionists and spent so much time on improving their game. I learnt from them."
"I am not saying Virat is not a class act. He is, but times have changed now."
Yousuf also talked about playing against India and played down the traditional rivalry between the two teams.
"Yes we had tough matches but after the game was over we got along well. Rivalries were left on the field."
He also defended the aggressiveness of Kohli.
"Even the Indian teams and players of the past were aggressive. Saurav Ganguly is an example. When we played them our players were also pumped up but at the end of the day we always appreciated a good performance even from the opposition because the quality of cricket was high.